Board and Batten Siding
Board and Batten Siding
A big part of our inspiration to buy a cabin was a vacation years ago in Northern California and the cozy cottage we stayed in there. The cottage small, but open and modern, and had the perfect barn-modern, vacation feel. And a big part of that vintage look and feel was the cabin’s board and batten siding.
Later, after we did purchase a small lake cabin in Northern Minnesota, we knew we wanted that same cozy, barn-modern feel for our cabin and couldn’t wait to replace the siding with traditional board and batten siding.
What is and How To Board and Batten
Board and batten siding has its roots in Norway and Sweden, where it was originally used to protect the exterior of log buildings. The siding became a popular siding on homes and barns in the Western United States during the mid to late 1800s.
Today, board and batten siding has regained popularity, especially with the rise of modern rustic architecture styles in the United States.
Board and batten siding is fairly simple siding system of gapped wide vertical siding boards with narrow overlying vertical battens to cover the gaps. The technique is time-tested, durable, easy to repair and allows for the natural expansion and contraction of the siding material.
While traditional board and batten siding uses wide boards and overlying narrow battens, there are multiple variations of the conventional narrow over wide technique. Reverse board and batten or batten and board, for example, installs wide boards over narrow battens. Board and board alternates overlapping wide boards with no battens.
Traditional board and batten siding in steps:
- Install wide vertical boards (typically 6″ to 12″) – space 1/2″ to 1″ between boards to allow natural movement between boards.
- Install overlying battens (typically 2″ to 4″) – these cover the gaps between the boards and hold the edges of the boards down.
When installing the boards, place fasteners at the center of the siding boards to allow boards to expand and contract. Fasten battens between boards to cover gaps and hold down board edges while still allowing them to move.
Board and batten siding diagrammed:
The Nitty Gritty of Board and Batten Siding
When installing board and batten siding, or any vertical siding, you will have to deal with the challenge of fastening vertical boards to a vertical stud wall.
Boards installed up and down (vertically) do not regularly intersect stud framing members like horizontally laid boards do. Traditionally, this problem was addressed by adding horizontal framing pieces (blocking) between the vertical studs.
While this method works, installing blocking is a lot of work and may be impractical for remodeling work. Blocking also reduces the space in the wall cavity for insulation and can make it hard to run wires and plumbing in walls.
Alternatively, you can beef up the sheathing of the wall and fasten the siding to the sheathing instead of the studs. To do this, you will need to use sufficiently thick sheathing – at least 1 1/4″ for nails or 1/2″ for screws.
For this project, I did just that. I used thicker plywood sheathing that I could fasten the siding to without having to install framing blocks. I used 3/4″ plywood. This thickness plywood is more than thick enough to hold the screws I planned to use to attach the siding. It was also a huge structural upgrade for my exterior walls.
With this plywood, I used deck screws as fasteners. Screws work well, especially if driven into plywood sheathing of 1/2″ or greater thickness. Nails will also work, but you will need much thicker sheathing for sufficient hold.
Fasteners for Board and Batten Siding
|fasten to||at least 1 1/4″ solid wood (studs)||at least 1/2″ plywood|
|grade||exterior grade – stainless, coated or galvanized||exterior grade – stainless, coated or galvanized|
|style||siding: spiral or ring shank||flat head coarse thread|
|length (boards)||siding thickness + 1 1/2″||siding thickness + 3/4″|
|length (battens)||batten + siding thickness + 1 1/2″||batten + siding thickness + 3/4″|
If using nails to fasten your siding, use exterior grade nails designed specifically for installing wood siding. Use exterior grade ring-shank or spiral shank style nails for siding.
Nails should also be compatible with the specific wood species you are using. Some woods will react with certain fasteners causing discoloration at the fastener site. Stainless steel or hot-dipped galvanized nails are typically the best choices.
Many siding nails will have specially designed tips to help prevent splitting of the siding. Nails will need to be long enough to pass through the siding and into a solid wood substrate at least 1 1/4″.
Typical nails for one-inch thick siding are 2 1/2″ long and 3 to 3 1/2″ long for battens. Remember to add length for any material (like furring strips or rain screen mat) between the siding and sheathing.
I used screws for this project. If you plan to use screws, look for an exterior grade screw (stainless or coated) compatible with the wood species you will be using. Most deck screws will work well. I used DeckMate deck screws (green color) purchased locally from the home depot.
Screws need to be long enough to pass through the siding and into a suitable (solid wood or plywood) substrate 1/2″ or more. If using 1/2″ sheathing, the screws should penetrate 1/4″ or more through the sheathing. Fastener lengths need to consider the thickness of the siding boards and any material (rain screen membrane or furring strips) between the siding and the sheathing.
For my project, my screw lengths were based on:
- siding and batten 1″ material (true thickness of 7/8″)
- rain screen membrane 1/4″
- 3/4″ plywood sheathing
Therefore the screws I used to fasten the boards and battens were:
Siding boards: DeckMate 2″ #8 Star bit flat-head deck screws
Batten boards: DeckMate 3″ #8 Star bit flat-head deck screws
If you are planning on using nails, they should look something like ones below; either hot dipped galvanized steel or stainless steel.
Choosing A Material For Your Siding
Board and batten siding can be constructed from a variety of materials. Wood, engineered wood products, fiber cement boards, polymer (vinyl) products are all suitable for board and batten. Of these, fiber cement boards and wood are excellent choices, and both have advantages and disadvantages.
Cement board products (HardiePanel, etc.) have the advantages of concrete; low maintenance, long life, dimensional stability and moisture and fire resistance.
Natural wood boards have the advantages of wood; natural beauty, the ability to take a stain, improved sound and thermal insulation and easy of cutting and installation.
Cement board products also have the disadvantages of concrete; heavy weight, difficult to cut and install, silica dust formation when cutting, and an artificial look.
Wood products have the disadvantages of wood; dimensional instability, tenancy to crack or split, need for repeat staining, susceptibility to woodpeckers, insects and rot, and the lack of fire resistance.
Despite the compelling advantages of cement board products, I chose natural cedar for my board and batten siding.
To improve the lifespan of the finish and to save time, I ordered prefinished cedar siding. Cedar offers the advantages of natural wood but is also naturally resistant to insects and rot due to the extracts in cedar.
The Huge Advantages Of PreFinished Siding
When using natural wood as a siding material, one of the biggest challenges is protecting the wood from moisture and rot.
While several species of wood have naturally enhanced protection against moisture and decay, and perform satisfactorily when installed unfinished, most will benefit from an applied stain or paint.
If you are planning to apply a finish to wood siding, follow best practices and finish all six sides of your boards. In addition, if you plan to use a solid color stain or paint, you should first apply at least one coat of a suitable primer before finishing the boards.
Properly applied finishes take time. Applying a coat or two of primer, allowing it to dry and then applying a coat or two of finish is a long process. Not only is this time-consuming, but the quality of the finish is very dependent on the conditions, tools, products and process used to apply any primer or finish.
So, how can you improve the quality of your finish and save tons of time? Buy your wood siding prefinished.
Yes, it may cost more (maybe), but for many of us, it is more than worth it. I found the price of ordering prefinished fairly competitive with the cost of what I could get the unfinished wood for locally. My cost for 1″ x 10″ knotty western red cedar in mixed 8′ and 16′ lengths was less than $2.50 / lineal ft (this was late 2011 when I ordered the material)!
Most of the local lumber yards had their 1″ x 10″ unfinished cedar very close to this price. I haven’t priced prefinished material lately, but even if it is priced a buck or so a foot more, you will have to think long and hard about finishing it yourself.
It is hard to explain just how awesome it was to receive my shipment of factory finished wood and simply start putting it up.
Ordering prefinished material saves a ton of time, and the siding is sealed with a professionally applied, factory finish. You will need to prime and paint cut ends, but that is easy. The supplier I ordered from also recommends a field coat of finish after the product is installed. Again, a fairly easy step – especially when compared to painting rough cedar from scratch. The field coat also provides the benefits of sealing over your fasteners.
In addition to the time-saving benefits of prefinished siding, you will have the durability of a top quality finished applied under perfect factory conditions typically by sophisticated finishing machinery. I ordered my prefinished cedar from Cedar Shingles Direct of Wyoming, Michigan. Their factory applies a Cabot finish of your choice – for us a latex solid stain applied over a solvent base primer.
Consider Adding A Vented Rainscreen Under Your New Siding
Exterior wall construction has changed over the years. Traditionally, exterior walls were built from wood framing sheathed with boards, OSB or plywood, covered with a weather-resistant barrier (WRB) and finished with siding, stucco or similar.
This style of wall construction (known as “redundant barrier”), worked well and has been popular for more than 100 years. Unfortunately, this style of wall construction when coupled with newer “airtight” construction and the growing use of synthetic house wraps, can be prone to water trapping with resulting rot and mold problems.
Recognizing this and accepting the inevitability that all walls will eventually leak, newer wall construction now focuses on building walls that can dry.
Building Walls That Dry
Rain screen wall construction originated in Norway as a method to protect exterior walls from driving rains. Walls constructed in this way not only protect the inner wall from weather but are designed to dry out if wet.
Vented rain screen walls separate the exterior siding from the underlying weather-proof barrier and sheathing below. Such construction allows penetrated water to drain out of the wall and air to freely flow within this space and drying of the wall assembly.
Building a rain screen wall system requires a bit of additional work when building walls compared to traditional techniques but the reward is a long lasting wall that can hold up very well to water.
To construct a vented rain screen wall, simply add a vented airspace between the WRB and siding within your wall construction:
TRADITIONAL WALL: framing | sheathing | weather-resistant barrier | siding
RAIN SCREEN WALL: framing | sheathing | weather-resistant barrier | vented airspace | siding
The airspace in a rain screen wall system is the key to the rain screen wall. This space creates a pressure break within the wall, allows water to drain and promotes air movement and drying within the wall.
This airspace within the rain screen wall designed wall can be created by a variety of methods – two common methods are:
- furring strips
- rain screen spacer mats.
Furring strips are thin strips of wood, or other material can be installed vertically to lift the siding off the weather-proof barrier covered sheathing. Furring strips can be created using 1/4″ or thicker material cut from sheathing, or other, or you can use one of the many manufactured products.
Rain screen spacer mats provide another method of creating a vented airspace. These mats are typically made from tangled plastic fibers that create a three-dimensional mat that allow air and water to move through the mat while providing spacing between the WRB and siding material. Several manufactured spacer mats are available to create a rain screen wall using this technique.
For my rainscreen wall build, I used a product by Keene called Driwall Rainscreen 020-1. This product provides a 1/4″ airspace and is installed between your weather-resistant membrane covered sheathing and the siding.
In addition to helping to keep walls dry, rain screen wall construction can help protect your weather-resistant barrier (WRB). Many weather-resistant barriers degrade after exposure to certain tannins and wood extracts. Separating the WRB from the siding boards via a rain-screen wall design may help limit contact of the two.
Here are the layers I used to build my exterior wall (from inside to out):
- 2×4 studs 16″ oc
- R-13 Fibergalss batt insulation
- 3/4 Plywood (CDX exposure 1)
- 30# builders felt (roofing felt)
- Driwall Rainscreen mat by Keene
- Cedar board and batten siding
If you are interested in reading more about the details of building a vented rain screen exterior wall please see my article “How and Why to Build a Rainscreen Wall”.
Plan For The Install Of Your New Board and Batten Siding
Once you have settled on the details of your wall reconstruction, the final task is installing the siding boards.
To install your siding, you will need sufficient access to your walls. Ladders are sufficient, but scaffolding is best. If you can, borrow, rent or buy some scaffolding for the project. Scaffolding will give you a stable, safe platform to work from and is much safer than ladders or ladders with planks.
You will also need to gather all necessary tools and supplies. Although I did much of my siding install alone, a helper is great to have if you can get one. For my project, I found it best to set up a few specific stations for individual tasks.
I had a station for measuring, and cutting the boards. I had a station for marking and starting the fasteners (I pre-installed the screws before putting the siding boards on the wall). I found having several small areas for each task allowed me to keep my tools organized and my workflow efficient.
As for your siding material, plan ahead. If using wood, your stock should have time to acclimate to your job site for some time. I also found it much easier to have the boards and battens primed and stained prior to putting them up.
For most of my material, it was already primed and stained as I ordered it factory finished (I highly recommend doing this!). I did, however, need some additional material that I had to prime and finish myself. I used the weekends prior to the start of the install to prime, finish and allowed the boards to dry.
Then, with the material finished and ready to install, I simply primed the cut ends prior to installation. After the boards had been installed, I finished the entire surface with a final field coat of finish.
How to Install Board and Batten Siding
Preparation and Materials
Board and Batten Siding – Project Overview
- Level: Intermediate
- Time: Days to Weeks
- Cost: $2 – $6+ per sq ft of wall
Board and Batten Siding – Project Big Picture
- Remove old siding and prep wall.
- Remove sheathing, weather resistant barrier, flashing (optional).
- Replace sheathing, WRB, flashing add rain screen drainage layer (optional).
- Install skirtboard and drip flashing at base of wall.
- Install spaced horizontal wide siding boards.
- Install top and window trim pieces.
- Install narrow horizontal battens to cover horizontal siding board gaps.
Materials – Board and Batten Siding Install
|Item||What I used||Cost|
|Prefinished Cedar – siding boards||Prestained Cedar 1″x10″ in Cabot Solid dark slate||$2.36 / ln ft|
|Prefinished Cedar – siding battens||Prestained Cedar 1″x3″ in Cabot Solid dark slate||$0.62 / ln ft|
|Prefinished Cedar – trim||Prestained Cedar 1″x4″ in Cabot Solid ultra white||$0.65 / ln ft|
|Screws for Boards||$25 / 5 lb|
|Screws for Battens||$25 / 5 lb|
|Screws for Trim||$65 / 10 lb|
|Siding Primer||$36 / gal|
|Siding Stain||$36 / gal|
|Flashing Tape||$43 / 75′ roll|
Tools / Supplies for Board and Batten Siding
Additional Materials and Tools if Planning on Wall Rebuild (insulation, sheathing, WRB, rainscreen)
Additional Materials for Wall Rebuild
|Item||What I used||Cost|
|Insulation||$60 / 105 sf|
|Sheathing||$25 / 4′ x 8′|
|Asphalt Felt||$30 / 216 sf|
|Rainscreen Mat||$150 / 150 sf|
|Cap Nails||$24 / 2000|
|Flashing Tape||$25 / 100′ roll|
|Framing Nails||$65 / 3600|
Board and Batten Siding, How To – Step by Step
- Order Materials and Supplies, Organize Tools.
Plan for your project by ordering the necessary materials and supplies. I ordered by cedar siding boards from Michigan PreStain. The process took several weeks and required shipping from Michigan to my site in Minnesota, so plan ahead if you will be pre-ordering material.
If using local material, order and purchase the material early enough to give yourself time to acclimate the material and possibly apply a coat of primer and finish prior to installing.
Order any other materials you plan to use prior to your planned install. I used 3/4″ plywood and R-13 fiberglass batt insulation that I ordered and had delivered from my local Home Depot.
- Consider Pre-staining or Pre-painting Siding.
If you are not purchasing a pre-stained siding product, consider painting or staining your material prior to installing it. At the very least prime the backs of the boards prior to putting them up if you plan to finish them once installed.
Most of my material was ordered pre-stained from Michigan Pre-stain, but I did need additional material that I purchased from a local lumber yard.
For the local lumber yard material, I did pre-finish the siding by first applying a solvent-based primer coat and two additional latex finish coats. I had done this the weekend before I installed the siding, allowing it to dry prior to installing the boards.
Painting or staining all six sides of the siding boards provides the best protection for the boards and may help prevent negative interactions between your weatherproof barrier (house wrap, asphalt felt, etc.) and extracts and tannins from your siding boards.
Extracts from siding boards, especially cedar, can degrade house wraps and their water resistance. Sealing the backside of siding boards can limit the amount of extracts house wraps are exposed to.
- Plan Siding Install.
With all the preliminary work completed, plan for the installation of your board and batten siding. The general order of my board and batten project was as follows:
Install weather-proof barrier, flashing and rainscreen (see rainscreen wall article for more details)
1. Install sheathing, weather-resistant barrier.
2. Install peel and stick window flashing.
3. Install rainscreen spacer mat.
Install board and batten siding and trim
1. Install 10″ x 1″ water table (skirt board) and metal flashing at base of wall.
2. Install 10″ x 1″ vertical siding boards from top of water board to top of wall spaced 1″ apart.
3. Install 3″ x 1″ border trim at top of siding.
4. Install 4″ x 1″ window and door trim (casing).
5. Install 3″ x 1″ vertical siding battens over siding board gaps.
6. Install 4″ x 1″ corner trim
7. Apply field coat of finish
The above is an overview of the entire process. Before putting up boards, you will first need to plan board selection, layout, and fastener use. The next two steps will briefly discuss these issues before we begin with the siding install.
- Prepare For Siding Install By Planning the Board Spacing and Layout for Siding Install.
With the skirt board installed and the drip edge flashing in place, begin the board installation for your siding. Before starting to install your siding, spend a bit of time to consider the layout and spacing of your siding.
For traditional board and batten siding, boards are installed first. These boards are spaced to allow for natural expansion and contraction of the siding material. The correct amount of spacing depends on the material you are using, but, in general, should be great enough to allow for board movement yet narrow enough to be sufficiently covered with installed battens.
Using 10″ wide boards and 3″ wide battens for our siding, we used a ~ 7/8″ gap between boards. This just so happens to be the thickness of the 1″ material we were using, so scrap pieces of material worked well to gap the boards.
When deciding how much spacing to have between the boards, consider the material you are using (wood, cement board, etc.) and the amount of expected expansion and contraction of that material. Obviously, wood will have much more movement compared to cement board.
In addition, consider the width of the battens you would like to use. Narrower battens will obviously require a narrower gap between boards. To get an idea of the needed width for the battens, consider the main functions of the battens: 1) cover the gaps between boards 2) to hold down the edges of the boards they are installed over.
Battens, in general, should be wide enough to cover the planned gap plus at least 3/4″ overlap on each side of the gap. For my install; a 1″ board gap plus the 3/4″ edge overlaps which equals 2 1/2″. The actual width of 1″ x 3″ lumber is 2 1/2″ – exactly the width I needed.
So, for my board and batten siding, I used; 1″ x 3″ battens over 1″ x 10″ boards spaced 1″ apart.
No matter what width of boards you plan to use, I would not recommend using battens that are less than 3″ nominal width (1″ x 3″ boards).
When using 1 x 3″ lumber for the battens, the actual width of the battens is only 2 1/2″. This doesn’t leave a lot of overlap of the boards, especially if your batten boards are not very straight.
Some warping and twists can be straightened when installing the battens, but if too much correction is attempted battens can split or crack. Most will use 1″ x 3″ or 1″ x 4″ boards for battens.
- Prepare for Siding Install By Planning Fastener Schedule.
Properly installed board and batten siding is secure but free to expand and contract naturally. When installing, place fasteners in a manner that will not significantly limit the natural movement of the siding boards.
In general, boards should be fastened near the center of their widths while the edges of the fastened boards are allowed to move. This style of fastening boards may seem contrary to traditional methods of fastened boards, with fasteners placed close to the edges of the material.
The beauty of the board and batten system comes from the coordination of the center fastened boards and the securing overlying battens at the boards edges. The system is secure, yet still allows movement.
– boards less than 10″ wide: use a single fastener placed at the center of the board at the top and bottom edges and every 2′ along the length of the board
– boards 10″ or wider: use two fasteners placed at the “middle thirds” position of the board at the top and bottom edges and every 2′ along the length of the board
(see below diagram below)
– battens both 3″ and 4″ wide: use a single fastener placed in the center of the board at the top and bottom edges and every 2′ along the length of the board (matches pattern of boards)
– battens should not be fastened to the boards directly, but to the underlying studs or cladding between the board gaps allowing the board edges to move freely under the battens.
-batten fasteners should pass between the boards through the gap between them and should not penetrate or restrict the movement of the board it is installed over.
Prior to installing the boards (and battens), I recommend pre-drill pilot holes for your fasteners. Pre-drilling is a good idea even if you plan on using nails. A small pilot hole will help you avoid splits in your boards and help keep your fasteners in line and straight.
To create consistent pilot holes between boards, I made a few drill jigs using spare pieces of siding material.
After drilling the pilot holes, I pre-installed the fasteners (screws in my case) in the holes, making it very easy to fasten the boards and battens once on the wall.
- Begin Siding Install With Skirt Board (Water Table) And Drip Flashing at Base of Wall.
For my board and batten project, I used a skirt board (a.k.a. band board, water table) at the base of my siding. I used the same 1″ x 10″ cedar material for this skirt as the boards for the siding.
Prior to installing the skirt board, I beveled the bottom edge of the board using a 45-degree router bit to help direct water away from the wall. After running the router over one edge, I re-primed and re-painted the routered edge. The boards were then installed as the water table at the base of the wall.
These skirt boards were installed at the base of the wall with the bottom edge (bevel out) starting just at or slightly below the level of the rim joist.
Of note, this is the same level as the insect screen installed at the bottom edge of the rainscreen mat. Once positioned correctly, fasten the boards to the wall with three fasteners every 18″.
With the skirt boards installed, set and fasten a drip edge over the skirt board. You have options here, but I used a pre-painted gray metal flashing piece.
Set the flashing over the top edge of the skirt board and fasten using a few roofing nails. You will not need many fasteners, as the siding boards, once installed, will hold the flashing secure.
While traditional flashing techniques suggest that the top edge of flashing pieces should be under the weather-resistant barrier, with the vented rainscreen wall design, I decided to install this flashing piece on top of the rainscreen mat.
The reason I did this is to allow an uninterrupted flow of air through the rainscreen mat. If I had installed the flashing piece back to and under the asphalt felt (WRB), it would interrupt the flow of air through the rainscreen wall at this point.
- Next Install The Siding Boards.
With the skirt board and top metal flashing in place, begin installing the boards of your board and batten siding.
You may start installing boards anywhere along your wall without a problem. I typically start at one corner of the wall and work across the wall. Some will begin at the edge of a window or doorway in an effort to decrease the number of difficult cuts needed.
In general spacing should be fairly consistent, but you can cheat a bit and vary board spacing a bit to avoid awkward cuts or very narrow boards.
Start your board install with a single board. Use a level to plumb the board and then fasten to the wall. Remember that fasteners should be penetrating into solid wood (thick plywood or framing (blocking).
If you use screws to fasten the siding, thick plywood (3/4″ or more) sheathing is typically a sufficient base for the screws.
If you plan to use nails, they need to penetrate 1 1/2″ of solid wood – which usually means horizontal stud blocking installed every 2 feet.
It is the enormous hassle and disadvantages of horizontal blocking that led me to use thicker plywood sheathing and screws to attach the siding.
Continue installing boards along the wall, cutting them as needed to fit around windows and other obstructions.
Continue installing the base “boards”, working around windows and other obstructions. Cut boards to fit with a slight gap (1/4″ – 1/2″ or so) around windows.
Windows should be flashed to your weather resistant barrier prior to installing the siding.
When working boards around windows and other areas requiring cutting, you can adjust your board spacing slightly of adjacent boards to help the boards fit better or avoid some cuts.
Be sure to re-finish the cut surfaces of boards before installing them. Notice the white primer added to the cut edge of the board bordering the right side of the window in the above image.
Once the boards installed, I applied a quick field coat of finish. Even with pre-stained material, the supplier recommends a field-applied coat of finish after installing the boards.
I could have waited until the battens were installed, but I found it much easier to use the opportunity of the flat surface of just the boards to apply a coat of finish. I used the same finish used at the factory for the pre-finish; Cabot solid color acrylic stain in dark slate.
Once the battens and trim are installed, I applied an additional coat of finish to cover battens. Notice the image below demonstrating how the field-applied finish coat covers the fasteners on the boards prior to installing battens.
- Install Top Trim (If using).
Prior to installing the battens, install any trim pieces at the top or bottom of the siding install. Trim pieces are not necessary. If you plan to use one, installing these pieces first will make it easier to measure and cut the battens to the proper length.
For my project, I used a horizontal trim piece at the top of the siding, but none at the bottom. The top trim piece is simply a batten turned and installed horizontally. I gapped the top of this trim piece with the surface above for the top ventilation of my rainscreen wall.
If you are installing board and batten siding over a vented rainscreen wall, you may need to design a more elaborate trim detail at the top of your walls to protect the top ventilation from rain and other elements.
My top gap was well protected by my generous 12″ overhang and did not need additional protection.
- Install Window and Door Trim.
Install the window and door casings at this time. There are countless window and door trim styles that can be used. I opted for a very basic butt-joined flush edge box casing for the windows and doors. I used 4″ x 1″ cedar material that I ordered pre-finished in white. I installed the trim pieces using trim head screws with white heads.
Prior to installing the window trim, I applied peel-and-stick flashing tape to all windows. The flashing tape was applied prior to the siding install, sealing the frame of the window with the asphalt roofing felt I used for the weather-resistant barrier.
I did not add additional flashing above the windows, but I did keep and re-use the vinyl drip cap strip on my windows. See my article on building a rainscreen wall for a more detailed discussion of how to flash existing windows with flashing tape.
After the windows are properly flashed, install window trim. For my trim, I used pre-finished 1″x 4″ cedar boards. I installed them using painted trim screws. Once installed, I caulked the top and side pieces to the outside edge of the window frame.
- Install Battens.
With the boards and trim pieces installed, now install the battens. When fastening the battens use a row of single centered fasteners that pass through the gaps between the boards and do not penetrate the boards. These fasteners will need to be long enough to pass 1 – 1 1/2″ into framing or sheathing.
For my project, I pre-drilled and installed screws into the battens. These pre-installed screws were passed 1/2″ or so through the back of the battens to make it easier to position and install the battens.
At the bottom of the battens, consider beveling the bottom edge to help shed water away from the wall. I did this using my compound miter saw when cutting the battens. After cutting the battens, remember to re-seal the cut ends with primer.
When cutting battens to length consider the details of your planned install. I am using a rainscreen wall construction and plan to vent the top of the wall out between a slight gap above the siding and below the top trim. To finish the top edge of the board and batten siding, I will install a 3″ board (same material as used for the battens), horizontally flush with the top edge of the siding boards.
The battens will butt up against this trim piece. Therefore, the length of the batten will be the length from the bottom of this trim piece to the bottom of the siding.
Keep in mind the bottom bevel of the batten, which will lengthen the batten by the amount of bevel you plan to add (I beveled my batten bottom edge 15 degrees).
Continue installing battens. When installing battens, do not caulk the lateral edges of the battens. The battens should be snug against the boards, but allow the boards to move under the batten in response to changes in humidity and temperature.
- Install Corner Trim Pieces.
Finally, finish the outside corners with trim pieces. For these corner boards, I used the same trim material (1″ x 4″ cedar) that I used for the windows. Unlike the window trim, these boards were pre-finished the same color as the main siding.
Install the corner boards butt-joined and fastened with screws.
- Apply Final Field Coat Of Finish.
Although I purchased pre-finished cedar for my board and batten siding project, the supplier of the pre-finished material recommended applying a final field coat of finish.
As I noted above, I applied a rolled on finish coat just after installing the boards. This coat went on very easily as the boards have a finish already applied that matches the color of this field coat. One big advantage of applying a field coat is the covering and sealing of fasteners. This was especially beneficial in covering the deck screws I chose for this project.
After the battens and the rest of the trim are installed, Applied another field coat of finish, mainly to cover the battens and trim. I did carry this finish onto the boards to ensure good coverage of the outside corner of the batten against the boards.
- Enjoy Your New Siding.
Board and Batten Siding Install Follow up
The siding was installed during the fall of 2011.
Update March, 2015
As of this year, 2015, the siding has been in service for 3 1/2 years. Other than needing the occasional cleaning with a stiff broom to remove cob webs and pine needles, our siding as been maintenance free. The siding still looks like we just put it up. The finish has no signs of age and has not chipped, peeled or failed in any way.
I have also not had any issues with the installed siding boards. None of the boards have cracked, warped or otherwise misbehaved. There has been no issues with water or signs of moisture issues on the exterior or interior of our cabin – it seems as if the combination of the vented rainscreen wall and the cedar board and batten siding are a perfect match. If I had to do it again, I would not do anything differently. I am very pleased with our board and batten siding!
Update October 2018
OK, its been 7 years! The siding is still going strong with no issues. No paint chips, cracks or peeling. No board cracks. No fastener failures. It really still looks like I just put it up. The rough surface of the cedar boards is loved by spiders and other cacoon-building insects. But other than the need for cleaning, the siding and the Cabot finish has held up incredibly well, especially considering the weather conditions in Northern Minnesota – hot humid summers, raining springs and falls and bitterly cold winters.
Here are a few recent photos: